The International Astronomical Union Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature recently approved a crater name — Spudis crater—in honor of Dr. Paul Spudis, a Universities Space Research Association scientist who worked at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) for 22 years (1990-2002, 2008-2018).  Spudis crater is located near the Moon’s south pole and is 13 kilometers in diameter.

Dr. Lisa Gaddis, USRA Program Director and Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute, noted, “We are very pleased to see this important recognition of Paul’s work in lunar and planetary science and exploration, especially as international interest in returning to the Moon’s south pole is increasing. Perhaps someday we’ll be working in person in Spudis crater as our nation establishes a long-term presence on the Moon.” 

Paul Spudis was an expert in lunar and terrestrial planetary geology, and throughout his career made fundamental contributions to understanding the geology and mechanics of impact basins and craters, the origin and evolution of the lunar crust, volcanic processes on Earth and other planets, and the genesis of lunar polymict breccias. Paul served as deputy leader of the 1994 Clementine mission science team, led the Mini-SAR radar that flew on India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter in 2008, and was a team member of the Mini-RF instrument on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launched in 2009.

An integral member of the LPI science staff, he contributed his expertise in many areas. He oversaw the LPI summer internship program for almost a decade, was Director of LPI’s Regional Planetary Image Facility, and gave numerous lectures and public talks.

A prolific author [e.g., The Once and Future Moon (1994) and The Value of the Moon (2016)] and tireless advocate for a return of humans to the Moon, Paul served on many panels and advisory committees including the 2004 Presidential Commission on the Implementation of U.S. Space Exploration Policy. He received numerous honors and awards, including the Columbia medal from the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Aerospace division (2016), the National Space Society’s Space Pioneer award (2011), the Theodore von Kármán medal and lectureship from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (2006), the NASA Distinguished Public Service medal (2004), and the Aviation Week and Space Technology Laurels award (1994).                                                                 


Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering.  USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities, and conducts other major research and educational programs. USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at 

About LPI

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), operated by Universities Space Research Association, was established during the Apollo program in 1968 to foster international collaboration and to serve as a repository for information gathered during the early years of the space program. Today, the LPI is an intellectual leader in lunar and planetary science. The Institute serves as a scientific forum attracting world-class visiting scientists, postdoctoral fellows, students, and resident experts; supports and serves the research community through newsletters, meetings, and other activities; collects and disseminates planetary data while facilitating the community’s access to NASA science; and engages and excites, and educates the public about space science and invests in the development of future generations of explorers. The research carried out at the LPI supports NASA’s efforts to explore the solar system. More information about LPI is available at

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